Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Window Warrior Princess


I have written before about architecture professor Shannon Kyles and her campaign to convince owners of heritage buildings to restore, rather than replace, wood-framed windows. I won't add tiresome links; just Google 'ancestral roofs kyles windows' to catch up with the story.

Just this week, a great article appeared in the Hamilton Spectator about Shannon, and a recent test she conducted, which provides all the evidence a homeowner might need that restored windows are every bit as efficient (and infinitely more aesthetically pleasing and historically accurate) as vinyl replacements. Here's a link.

It's a fun read. Columnist Jeff Mahoney knows Shannon, and his characterization of her "all or nothing let the devil take the hindmost manner" is pretty accurate, I would think. The photos are fun.

But the important thing is the proof that with a bit of patience and the skills of a heritage specialist (a couple of names pop up in the article) we can resist the easy way out vinyl replacement solution, and save the best features of old homes - their windows.

News from Ham House - you can help make history!!

before restoration
I have been worrying about historic Ham House in Bath since the year I began this blog, 2010, when I despaired for its future in this little post.

I need not have worried, as by 2012, I learned that the indomitable Ron Tasker, wife Bonnie and volunteers had undertaken to save and restore the 1816 neoclassical store and residence. We visited in 2012, got news of another tour in 2013, and recorded the visit here. In 2014 I introduced Ron to my other heritage hero Shannon Kyles the heritage window restoration activist.

after restoration - photo courtesy R.Tasker
I had been waiting to post this until I got to Bath for better photos of the 2017 Ham House, but since it's been raining for a month, I will use Ron's photo.
one of Ron's hundreds of Ham history talks
Ron has been in touch. He sent a link to the Ham House website. Check out the History, Finds and Restoration pages.

But most importantly, click on the Donate page, to read about Ron's GoFundMe campaign. For him to make the final step to bring the house to life, with  a restaurant/pub, he needs to do the final push to raise funds for the extremely high municipal fees required.

Those of us who have delighted in the restoration story, wishing we had the drive for such a project,  now have an opportunity to be included. Please visit the website, follow the Donate link.

Just think. When this hurdle has been crossed, we can sip a local brew in the rejuvenated store and study the 1800s grafitti, or have a lunch beside one of the Georgian fireplace mantels.

 Ron Tasker has also created a Facebook page with the story, and loads of before and after photos. It is really incredible what smarts and hard work have created.

Now we can do our part. Donate!


Trinity Street
I love this row of houses...though likely not the most luxe of homes, the terrace has great character, and oozes history. It makes me think of some of the humble homes in The Ward that  Lawren Harris captured in his Toronto days.

 I expect the address would have been even less savoury in the early decades of the nineteenth century when Corktown was developing. Here's a great BlogTo story with an historic  photo or two. And a Streetview link to Trinity Street approaching King Street East, if you would like to follow along with Larry and me, as we tour Corktown.

Corktown was settled in the early 1800s by working class immigrants, many from county Cork in Ireland (hence the name.) They worked in brickyards and breweries, and despite their labours, most lived in poverty.

 The 1843 Little Trinity Church, a charming brick Gothic revival building, served the parish. Word is that neighbourhood folk couldn't afford to attend grand St. James where one had to rent a seat (the cathedral retains those box pews to this day.)
Corktown gave back

a transformation
  Behind the church, along Trinity Street, stands the oldest school still standing in Toronto, the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, now a school museum. I like this story. The owner of one of the breweries in which the neighbourhood toiled financed the building of the school in 1848 on land donated by the church; it was the first free school in Toronto. Here's the Ontario Heritage Trust site with some photos.

Didn't record it many distractions in the 'hood, including the many stories Larry the transformation of Little Trinity Church Annex above.
Victorian terrace updo - no comment
 Another delight on the walkabout was tiny Bright Street. So narrow, impossible to do it justice with my camera. The writer of this BlogTO article ends by saying "there aren't many places in Toronto like this, " with reference to the tiny house at 32 Bright Street. I would say that quote could apply equally to the entire crooked street. My guide recounted that Toronto film crews occasionally scout the tiny street as a stand-in for English terraces.

 Corktown is becoming popular (lower cost commercial loft and storefront conversions, Georgian rowhouses becoming design shops and condos) but I have a confidence that no amount of tidying and scrubbing up will erase its historic character.
interesting partnership
still frame clad, cut-off entrance

Here's a handy neighbourhood history, because I'm going back to explore further, and I expect you might, also. Corktown is bordered by Jarvis, Queen, Front, the West Don Lands. Corktown sits north of the historic Distillery District. Its street names recount its industrial past: Tannery Road, Rolling Mills Road, Mill Street.

 If your budget is healthier than mine, you might want to seek out a pied-a-terre for those Toronto getaway weekend. Here are some Toronto Life  condo listings. Get them before they're gone.
Larry contemplates the Great Fire of 1849, further along King